South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease Research Unit


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Prof Michael S PepperUnit Director: Prof Aletta Schutte

A systematic global analysis published in 2011 undertaken in 5.4 million participants, indicated that global blood pressure has decreased since 1980. However, region-specific inspection of this data shows that in men and women from Africa, the mean systolic blood pressure actually increased. In addition, the highest mean blood pressures recorded worldwide were in African countries.1,2

The importance for investigating hypertension is underscored by the fact that it is a modifiable and preventable disease, and without prevention or effective treatment will result in high incidence of stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, renal failure and mortality.

Despite highly effective treatment options for hypertension, in Africa we are faced with two major problems: detection of hypertension, and a “very low level” of adequate treatment and control.3 Apart from the fact that various anti-hypertensive drugs are not as effective in African populations,4 current health systems for early diagnosis, the correct dose and control of hypertension are completely ineffective. It is therefore important to consider and investigate other strategies that may be more effective in the long term, especially in terms of early detection and prevention of disease. In order to reach this level, a clear understanding on CVD development over time, and factors contributing to disease development in this population are needed.

  1. Lloyd-Sherlock et al. Int J Epid 2014; 43:116-128.
  2. Danaei G, et al. Lancet 2011;377:568-77.
  3. Cappuccio FP, et al. Hypertension 2004; 43:1017-1022.
  4. Opie LH, Seedat YK. Circulation 2005;112:3562-8.

Goals & objectives of your intended research
The central aim of the Extra Mural Unit on Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease is to directly contribute to new clinical and epidemiological knowledge within the field of hypertension development in black populations in order to facilitate more effective awareness, treatment and prevention programs in the future.

We make use of prospective data in participants with ages ranging from 20 to 90 years, and follow different cross-disciplinary approaches to determine the contribution of societal and environmental factors; health behaviours and HIV-infection; traditional and novel cardiometabolic risk markers; and the –omics (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics) to mortality; cardiovascular events; target organ damage; change in arterial pressure and biological markers over time.

The inclusion of participants from young and healthy (normotensive) to individuals with hypertension with accompanying target organ damage, will allow us to generate new knowledge across the spectrum from early pathophysiological changes to advanced stages of cardiovascular disease development.

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Last updated:
17 July, 2017
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